The last few weeks I have slowed down a bit from what has proven to be a busy summer (Stay tuned for a post about all my summer adventures). I needed to rest and gather my thoughts. I was again left struggling with my redefined relationship with my ex. That delicate dance of getting along is tricky and has proven to be hot and cold – really no middle ground. There is no tolerance level at all between the 2 of us – that quality has “left the building” so to speak. When I finally stopped running around and had a chance to collect my thoughts and my feelings on how we have derailed ourselves again, I am surprised what GOD is teaching me through these moments.
I have been beating my self righteous drum for quite a while now – Keeping account of all his wrong doings and keeping that commentary present in dialogues with others. But how does that get me anywhere? Repeating his flaws and faults while failing to mention my own pridefulness wasn’t pleasing to GOD nor was it helping us move into a stable co-parenting relationship. When an interaction with him presented itself I cloaked myself in that same self-righteous armor and went on attack – wanting to be right and WIN the argument, instead of approaching the situation with Humility. Stepping back and re-evaluating what wasn’t working for me and my ex, I took some time to pray. I could stay in that place that kept me frustrated and constantly battling OR I can take a different path. A path of Humility and Humbleness.
What I am learning is that approaching a situation with Humility does not equal defeat. THAT… is powerful my friends!. And look, I thought patience was tough to learn (still learning btw) – Humility is proving to be just as tough but worth it. When my children look at me and the way I have handled this entire situation – I want them to say – My mom handled one of the most difficult times in her life with Grace, Love, Forgiveness and most importantly Humility.
In this day and age Humility is an underrated quality, and I think misunderstood – at least it was by me. Humility is different than forgiveness. I forgive my ex for what he did – and I thought that would be enough. It was enough to free me from the bondage that came from my unforgiveness. But my ex is still present in my life and I must deal with him for many more years to come and so despite forgiving him – I was still stuck, which is where humility steps in. Humility is choosing to Honor GOD rather than arguing about what I deserve or focusing on how angry I am. Its being obedient to GOD and staying true to HIS teachings – ALL OF THEM.
So once again GOD revealed things that I didn’t necessarily think I would hear. Every time… when I focus on trying to fix someone else – GOD steps right in and shines that spotlight right back on me – encouraging me to fix the situation starting with fixing myself and this time with a little piece of humble pie.
Lately I have been focusing my blog posts on myself and my friendships, but this post I wanted to write about my BIGS and their people – the special people in their lives that make them smile. I recently had the opportunity over the summer to spend time with both of the Bigs. Now in their 20’s, they come along with a significant other. And although I blissfully enjoy the moments I spend with them – I am keenly watching. What struck me as I watched how they interact with each other during each of our visits was that these people really love my children. The small gestures, ones that most would miss, I pick up on and celebrate that my longstanding prayers for loving partners for my children were heard.
Christopher has a beautiful girlfriend – inside and out. She is everything I always thought he would choose. Intelligent, creative, witty, down to earth and much more. She loves him with the purest of hearts – even beyond his flaws. She loves his flaws and embraces them. She is kind and thoughtful, going the extra mile to make him feel special. I witnessed her take care of him when he cut himself playing with the little girls and thought that was my role for so long and now as a man he has found someone who loves him as much as I do (that’s hard to do) and I am glad to take a back seat to this.
Lizzy has had a boyfriend for a little over two years now. He is patient, loving, driven, intelligent and so much more. Over time I have seen the little things that to me, speak volumes about how much He loves my little girl. (and I have written about him before in my blog – http://portieadoptionjourney.blogspot.com/2016/10/love-in-text-message.html ) He is thoughtful of her, values her opinion, champions her abilities and is protective of her. He is the balance in her life and is quite funny too. I witnessed probably an every day moment between the 2 of them during our last vacation together where he was asking her if she liked a particular shirt for him and getting her opinion on which one he should buy. That seems like nothing folks but to me the fact that he values her opinion and input means he values her.
And I must add, our family dynamic is not like most. Most adult children do not have elementary age siblings, especially not those that are adopted. And yet these 2 newcomers to our family recognize how important it is for the Bigs to continue to bond with the Littles and they foster that relationship and are ok with the time that it takes to do so. They play silly games and make concessions in our activities to accommodate even the youngest of our group. Another simplistic gesture they extend that probably is done without thought or effort but speaks volumes to this mom about their character.
Its the things I recognize that was missing in my marriage for so many years that I see my children have it “right” with who they have chosen. I have put a lot of knee time in prayer specifically for who will eventually be my children’s spouses. Are these my children’s life partners – that has yet to be seen but I celebrate the 2 that are in their lives right now for who they are and what they bring to the table and how authentically they love the greatest loves of my life.
This cute little sticky note inspired me to write today. To write this blog post symbolically as a letter to my ex-husband. Those words on that sticky so tell my story, my truth. I am so much more now…
For so long you pigeon held me to being half of who I should have been. You limited my potential although I fought against what you said were my limits, the bar you set that I could not or didn’t have the ability to surpass. Without you, I have discovered that sky’s the limit, that I can do anything I set my mind to. I am smart and resourceful and have endless potential to be who it is I dream of being.
You told me that our friends hated me, that who I was led people to not want to be part of our lives. But without you, those same friends have re-emerged and are actively part of my life. I have realized that I am fun, funny, adventurous and people want to be with me. I have even grown my circle of friends exponentially – and these are good people both old and new friends that have morals, standards and live good lives. I look back and see the few friends that didn’t follow me and they are the ones that are plagued with dysfunctional behaviors – liars, cheaters, self absorbed, selfish – you can keep those folks. Without you I have become an amazing friend who cares deeply for her friends, every one, and I put actions behind it. Without you I am now free to be the Friend I always wanted to be to so many people.
You were silent, withholding any compliment or gesture of praise for anything I accomplished or even how I looked. But without you I see the depth of my accomplishments and celebrate everyone of them. I now look at myself and see beauty and can confidently radiate that to the world around me.
You controlled and limited my time outside of my home, stifling my ability to give back to others and my community. Without you I am making an impact – making a difference in peoples lives that will be felt for many years to come….. and it feels good.
Without you I am my true self. A beautiful person who loves her children, friends and family fiercely and completely. A smart and driven woman who’s career has flourished and is able to pay it forward in our community. A fun and spirited friend who now gets to enjoy special times with great people. A humble child of the KING with an amazing testimony of HIS promises.
“Thank you” may not be sufficient considering all that I have gained….
My mom recently brought a box over to my house. My son was doing a project for my dad and needed information on his service in the military. When I opened the box – what I found was so much more. The box was filled with every letter that my dad had written my mom while he was away at war – The Vietnam War. My dad had even made audio recordings of him talking to her and she kept those too. What a treasure! As I held those 50+ year old letters and read the words in some of them, my soul was moved. I was holding the evidence of a real love story! The endearing words on a page written by a fresh faced, scared 19 year old facing the possibility of death every day. But in those circumstances, clung to his new wife and their love to get him through. I told my mom that day to make sure that these letters and audio recordings are preserved, no matter what! She was a little taken aback at my passionate reaction to the letters. Here’s why:
That box.. full of letters will be passed on to our family’s future generations and will serve as a reminder of what love, commitment and marriage really are! That they do span a lifetime, that they are committed in good and bad times – even through wars. That box is my parents love story…. the legacy they leave their children, grandchildren and one day great grandchildren and beyond….
And now, more than ever, I want my children and their future generations to know my parents story and know that it is part of the fabric of our family. I come from a long line of committed marriages, beautiful families. All 5 of my uncles and my aunt that got married are still married or were married to the same person until they passed away. The generation before them – the same. Divorce, for the most part, was not a part of our family’s story – until me. And statistics say that the reality of Divorce in a family will resonate for 7 generations before a cycle is broken. I do not want that reality for my 4 children. I want them to look around at the people in their family history and know that they come from a LONG line of committed marriages, beautiful love stories – each with trials that they all overcame, stuck it out and chose LOVE over anything else. I want my kids to know that when they do chose to marry that the vows they say – mean something and should be honored no matter what comes your way. I want them to write beautiful love stories for my grandchildren and great grandchildren and have their own BOX to pass on……
If you read my blog you probably know that in August of 2017 I bought a camp on the Tickfaw River in Springfield, Louisiana with my best friends from Baton Rouge. We have spent time down there since purchasing but have not experienced a full summer there. BUT… Summer is kicking off on the River and this past weekend was the Tickfaw 200 – an annual powerboat poker run that happens on the river and I got to experience it to the fullest.
This post is not to detail out what we did because frankly “what happens at the river, stays at the river” (LOL) but moreover to express my gratitude at how beautiful my life is now. Sometimes in the valleys I can forget how far I have come and that my life HAS been rebuilt and it is full of people who love me and want to spend time with me.
There were moments when I caught myself this weekend, just taking it all in. Looking around at my TRIBE that came to enjoy the weekend with me AND ALL of my friends I have made at the River and thinking – “this is good – like really good”…… And the people in my neighborhood and those in the surrounding area that have embraced me and my peeps, inviting us, welcoming us, sharing good times with us, is exactly what I envisioned when I purchased this place. I could not have asked for more. For the FIRST time in 3 years I felt normal… I didn’t wake up or go to sleep with any sadness looming. I was excited to see what the next day held. Again, another hurdle crossed , another step forward in the healing process.
My place on the river – isn’t just a camp – but an extension of my life where I welcome my friends and family to enjoy good times. Its a place of solace and healing. A place where I can have fun and laugh and be encapsulated in peoples goodness and kindness……it is overly abundant there.
Here I am again, in front of this same screen, struggling to write something. My struggle isn’t what to write this time but how to articulate what I am feeling while still staying true to my purpose of this blog. (Disclaimer… my blog is not a place where I allow myself to whine but a place to document my truth and hopefully help some folks that are struggling with similar things along the way). So here goes….
Let me start by saying I have encountered many failing marriages lately and although some circumstances and details are a mystery, it saddens my spirit knowing the pain those families will likely face as they move through the “land of divorce”. And lately my words of encouragement are few. The “time heals all” and faith filled uplifting sayings are not my first response. The feeling in my gut is “I’m losing faith”. Faith that the family unit will ever be honored and treasured, faith that people will inherently do the right thing and be committed to their marriage vows and faith that all things wronged will be made right. It just doesn’t feel like it anymore. It seems that moreover those doing the wrong things are rewarded time and time again, while those that try to do good and be righteous in their ways get the shaft. Like really… I want my happy ending… I want to not have to share my children, I want to live without guilt that my 2 littles will never know or have an intact family, I want to be able to go to my kids events and not have those that cheat and lie in my space and certainly I want to raise my children without the influence of those same immoral people. And lastly (way last) at some point I would like to have a partner that I could share my life and family with and it look like it is suppose to (biblically – not meshing together of families from 2nd and 3rd marriages) Needless to say, I want a lot of things – all of which I am not going to ever get – without Michael J. Fox and his Delorean Time Machine.
My plan A – husband, house, children, dog, white picket fence – obviously did not work out. And what’s bad is I had no expectation that it would not work out. In my mind I never even dreamed I would need to come up with a Plan B for my life. And let me digress for just a hot minute – please don’t misconstrue my outpouring in this post as me wanting my marriage back with my ex-husband because I don’t – it was unhealthy and I can honestly say that I don’t miss him one bit. I just want the things that went with the marriage to remain intact – all the things that I loved about my life to remain the same. So on to this Plan B – this 2nd choice life…. Can it be good or ever feel right. I am not sure, that remains yet unseen. BUT even in my darkest hour, the stamping my feet because I am mad at GOD – I still look to him for answers and comfort.
In the Old Testament Elijah went through some terrible struggles and although he was a faithful servant of GOD, one who GOD anointed as a great prophet, he still felt the struggle and the pain. God provided for Elijah – yet he still had to encounter the tough times. Which was not something I really wanted hear but that is TRUTH straight from the WORD. Even more to my dismay…..the bible also says that GOD makes the sun rise on the evil AND on the good, and sends rain on the just AND on the unjust. Again, I didn’t want to hear that either…. Why can’t my struggle have a timer on it – and to my count I have long expired the timer of suffering and struggle in my life. Why can’t it rain and sunshine on those that do the RIGHT thing, leaving a dark drought on the others – it might make me feel better. However, Its the truth of God’s word … and although I may not like it – IT is what IT is. So here I am left looking to put the pieces together of this fractured Plan B of a Life. Will they ever fit together just right, absolutely they will NOT, so I guess I must change my expectations of what it should look like. That’s been the toughest obstacle to overcome thus far and I am certainly not going to profess I even remotely know how to do it. I will say this… Even when I don’t feel like GOD is listening, even when I am pissed at GOD and even when I don’t much feel like it – I will TRUST that God is working this one out.
In the meantime, I am trudging forward day by day. Good changes are on the horizon and good times with the folks I love the most sprinkled throughout my year. So there….
I have been struggling lately with what to say in my blog. I do not want to sound like a broken record – life is hard, holidays are tough, blah blah blah. So after coming off of an Easter Holiday that was spent half in tears and half in “heaven” surrounded by all of my children and family it has taken me a while to collect myself enough to write about something… anything for that matter.
So my post today is about Loyalty, because I have seen and experienced examples of TRUE loyalty and what it looks like as opposed to the “not real” noodlely kind of loyalty (yes I made that word up.)
During this journey of divorce, my friends have shown up in full force to rally around me, stand in the gap for me. make me laugh and support me when I really need it. Even 3 years down the road there are still times I need to call for reinforcements. Here is a glimpse of what I mean.
Since before Thanksgiving the relationship between my ex and I has been ok. We have set aside our differences and have made concerted efforts to “play nice” especially in front of the kids. What I have not written about is that the “playing nice” also includes his girlfriend (or whatever she is these days). The 20 something year old girl who was dating my ex-husband while we were married. You get the picture? I have set aside my feelings for the greater good of my girls but this also requires me to swallow my pride and my words (a few choice ones too) when the 3 of us attend any school function, field trips, extracurricular activity or kid focused celebration (birthday, gotcha days, graduation, etc). Its a hard pill for me to swallow – very hard. Most days I walk away from those “together times” feeling a bag of mixed emotions – from sadness to anger and everything in between but yet I smile (at least most of the time) through it all for my kiddos. Those feelings take time to go away each time we have to be in the same space and yet by the time I am feeling better its time to do it all again – day after day – week after week – event after event. Its a viscous cycle.
BUT! There are my friends that know me and know how hard those times are and change their schedules and go out of their way to be there for me. They take vacation from work to drive with me to Houston to sit at a Hospital all day because they know I will be not only struggling worrying about my child who is having surgery but also having to deal with the dynamic of having those 2 in my space. THAT is what Loyalty looks like my friends. All I have to do is text that I need reinforcement and my friends come running, some just know that I am struggling because they know me so well and show up in various ways without a prompting from me. Those that live out of town and can’t be there physically always find time to call or text to help alleviate the awkwardness and my sadness. They come to birthday parties, even though their kids are grown, Gotcha Day Celebrations, Soccer games, etc. and they do it because they do love my girls but moreover because they are Loyal, true friends.
I have seen the opposite side of loyalty – the side that isn’t so loyal, both in my marriage and in so-called friends. Its not pretty and there is no value there. I guess what I have trained myself to see or am training myself to see through my trials, is the beauty and value in the relationships I have now, the small things that have a huge impact on me – the ones that make a difference in my life. Those small gestures that make the reality of my life and what I have to deal with a little easier to swallow and sometimes a little funnier too. Loyalty…. priceless. I will never live without it again!